The sudden arrival of summer weather (long may it continue!) has seen the Great British public relishing the outdoors, stoking up those barbecues, and flooding in droves to our beaches. Come the fall of dusk, towels are shaken off, chairs folded up, and beach-goers packed back into cars. And sadly, plenty of litter is left strewn across the sand.
It should go without saying, put your rubbish in the bin! And if there’s not a bin nearby (highly unlikely) take it home with you and dispose of it properly there! (Ideally sorted into the correct recycling bin). So whilst we can all do our bit, by responsibly throwing away our own rubbish, here’s some more ways in which we can all help to clean up our planet.
Beach cleans are becoming more and more widespread across the coastal areas of the UK. World Ocean’s Day especially saw hundreds of events organised, bringing together local communities to do their bit for the local environment. Although heightened, litter isn’t just an issue during the busy summer months, and you should find regular beach clean-ups throughout the year. Check out these websites to find a beach clean-up near you:
You don’t just need to be part of an organised beach clean-up to help out though! If you live locally to a beach, why not take along a (reusable) carrier bag on your next evening stroll, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can fill it! And of course, litter isn’t just found on beaches, so this attitude can be adopted and used wherever you find litter.
Lazy litter louts however, are not our only source of the plastic pollution crisis that is currently scaring us into action and we’ve all read ways in which we can help cut down our plastic usage. But what about all the plastic that is already polluting our oceans? It’s already been made, so can we make further us of it? You bet! The idea of cleaning up after ourselves is inspiring some pretty exciting technology, and innovative entrepreneurs.
The Ocean Cleanup is a ground-breaking scheme, aiming to reduce the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by up to 50% in just five years. By passively drifting with the ocean currents, the floating barriers are pushed to high density areas, where ocean debris is caught and later collected. Not only is their technology pretty epic, but it was started by eighteen-year-old Boyan Slat, who is now the youngest ever recipient of the UN’s highest environment award – Champion of the Earth! Amazing.
Check out their website for a much more detailed explanation of the technology and project.
And what about The Seabin? Created by two avid surfers, The Seabin Project focusses on cleaning marinas, where debris often collects and easily builds up. The Seabin can catch an estimated 1.5 Kgs of floating debris per day (depending on weather and debris volumes) including microplastics up to 2 mm small [Source]. As well as the product, they are looking to develop a Global Ambassador programme, spreading awareness and education to the next generations, in order to tackle plastic pollution at the source.
But what happens to all of that waste, especially plastic, once it is collected and removed from the oceans and land environments? Well, that’s where innovation is really kicking off, and over the last few years we have seen businesses springing up with brand-new-recycled products, as well as household name brands incorporating recycled fabrics and materials into their current lines.
Here at Bright Green Enterprise we’ve been singing the praises of bamboo for years, because of it’s super-fast growing abilities and no need for fertilisers, plus it makes the cosiest socks! There are many other natural, planet-friendly materials, such as hemp, linen and organic cotton. But material made from plastic bottles? That doesn’t sound particularly skin friendly….
Think again! In a collaboration with Timberland, Thread has removed 765,280 plastic bottles from Haiti’s streets and canals and turned them into an eco-friendly version of the classic boot. Not only are Thread cleaning up our planet, they are tackling poverty by providing jobs, and contributing to cleaner and safer living environments. Talk about stepping up to the challenge!
Then there’s Repreve – a fabric made by Unifi which has recycled more than 10 billion plastic bottles to date! Repreve is used by brands in products from clothing, to swimwear, to car interiors. At this rate, we’ll de dressing ourselves in Coca-Cola, and driving to work in Evian.
Perhaps you’re looking for some new pieces of artwork? Well if sculpture is your thing, then you should definitely become a sole mate. Kenya-based Ocean Sole ‘flip the flop’ and turn our much-loved summer shoe into beautiful, unique sculptures in order to raise awareness and highlight the impact of flip-flop pollution. As well as art-pieces, they have small practical items for sale, all of which contribute to education, support through employment, and of course, waste collection.
So next time you need a new t-shirt, rucksack, or pair of sunglasses, why not swim against the mainstream current, and make a more environmentally friendly purchase? Companies and organisations like those mentioned above are popping up across the planet, all trying to do their bit to reduce our impact on the environment. As consumers, we have the power to make recycled products the norm, and by supporting such ventures with our investment through purchases, we can help, bit by bit, to clean up our act.
Author: Rachel Calnan